At first, Bronx designer Mugzy McFly didn’t know that he would make a career out of fashion. When he was in high school, McFly was very into sneaker culture and saw how you could build an outfit around a pair of shoes.
“It stemmed from basketball. The most vocal part of the outfit would be sneakers,” said McFly. “To get a good outfit, you start with sneakers. Everyone would buy the same shirt or jersey, I thought that if I’m going to stand out, I have to go my own route.”
McFly started to create his own custom clothes on his own and ultimately fell in love with designing. It didn’t sink in that he could make a career of designing clothes until after he graduated high school and was having his own troubles in the job market.
“That’s the funniest thing, I was not conscious of the fact that this was where I was heading. It wasn’t until later, maybe 2010 or 2011, after i graduated and was really stagnant and couldn’t get a job,” said McFly. “I knew a couple of people who had custom brands and it sparked my interest. I fell in love, it made me want to do my own thing. It was a last shot, I thought I can actually do that.”
McFly launched his own streetwear brand, Signed By McFly, and has been designing ever since. Currently, Signed By McFly offers a range of different styles that include custom shirts, hoodies, bodysuits, shoes, hats and more, and the line has worked with Post Malone, Maino and Doja Cat as well as Bronx natives Bernice Burgos and Jim Jones.
For McFly, it really started to sink in that he could design for a living when the “dad hat” craze — an unstructured, pre-curved cap with an adjustable fit strap — really hit the forefront of fashion a few years ago.
“When the dad hat became popular, I hated hats. I learned to like them, but I was not a hat person,” said McFly. “I had friends who made some dad hats and I wanted one so bad, but I didn’t get why. I thought, ‘I will make one, I can make it for my own brand.’ I made one and previewed it on Snapchat. That was the end of it, that one hit so hard. It changed the whole trajectory of everything I was doing.”
Ever since he started his brand, McFly has been working to help put the Bronx back on the map by working with fellow Bronx creators and designers. McFly had started a store that sells New York City-based brands, the majority of which are minority-owned and have originated in the Bronx, and has created several opportunities for Bronx creators and models to get more exposure in the industry and among his own customers.
“I wanted to give a platform for people to learn how to sell its products without me. I’ve done fashion shows and given opportunities to models in the Bronx. I’ve had a bunch of people in their first modeling gigs and have given a lot of designers gigs, and I have done multiple pop-up shops,” said McFly. “I already have enough of a crowd that comes for me, and I’m always collaborative. Sometime during November, we host a pop-up, we have been on the news for three years straight. 20 vendors were able to get a bigger crowd than normal and gained more exposure. It was the best way to do it organically.”
For McFly, raising up the Bronx is something that he has always wanted to do as the Bronx holds a special place in his heart as his borough and he sees how much it has given to the rest of the city.
“It’s what I want to do. I love it here so much, sometimes it is the forgotten borough. Everyone goes to Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem and Manhattan. Bronx is the home of Ralph Lauren, it’s funny how no one ever makes that connection,” said McFly. “I want to stamp the Bronx. We have the Yankees and the zoo, but we have a melting pot of creatives and I want to highlight that. I am a product of my environment, I want to preserve that, keep going and give it attention. If I can give enough to continue that work, I will keep that work alive.”
McFly is currently working on a new hat design as well as a new shoe design that he plans to be more accessible to those who are more mainstream in their fashion choices.
“I have a completely brand new silhouette coming out that I think everyone will love. This is homey enough that everyone who wears clothes will love it. Not everyone makes fashion risks, so you need to appease both crowds,” said McFly.